Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 97

Yesterday was the deadline for the parties to the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to ratify the 1996 updating document on flank quotas. However, four countries continue to register objections and reservations stemming from the presence of Russian forces in flank areas on or near their territories.

A senior Azerbaijani official stated yesterday on background that the "situation regarding the flank document" and the "ultimate decision on whether Azerbaijan approves it" is in President Haidar Aliev’s hands. Aliev might later "inform orally" Holland — the depository of the ratification instruments — about Azerbaijan’s adherence to the treaty. The official said that exceeding the May 15 deadline for ratification would "not be something out of the ordinary" in view of existing precedents. Aliev had stated on May 13 that the U.S. ambassador conveyed to him a message from U.S. president Bill Clinton urging Azerbaijan to ratify the treaty; but Aliev only indicated that "Baku’s position is based on principle and he informed President Clinton accordingly." (Turan, May 13; Interfax, May 15)

Ukrainian first deputy foreign minister Anton Buteiko stated yesterday that President Leonid Kuchma’s May 13 decree on "adhering" to the flank document "will be implemented depending on how the situation will develop in the Vienna consultative commission." It is also not entirely clear whether Kuchma’s decree can substitute for parliamentary ratification. In Washington a day earlier to prepare Kuchma’s visit, Buteiko had conceded a "big change in our position…to satisfy the U.S. to a certain extent." But he stressed that Kiev had found a "formula that…reflects Ukraine’s interest in closing a legal opening to the stationing of [Russian] forces in Ukraine." (Interfax-Ukraine, May 14-15)

The Moldovan parliament ratified the flank document on deadline day. The Foreign Ministry told the legislature that the conditions attached to the flank document by the U.S. Senate do meet Moldova’s concerns by precluding the use of the document to justify the stationing of Russian troops in Moldova. On the preceding day, the parliament discussed the ratification but took no decision. The government has entered a reservation asserting that the country’s neutral status and constitution "rule out hosting even temporarily the forces of other countries on its territory. " It also calls for the withdrawal of Russia’s former 14th Army. (Flux, Basapress, May 14-15)

The Georgian parliament on May 13 ratified the modified treaty but attached three conditions. It refused to count the arms of separatist Abkhaz and South Ossetian forces as part of Georgia’s entitlement under the treaty; it asserted that the document "in no way can be interpreted as legitimizing the presence of another state’s forces in Georgia"–a reference to Russian forces; and it objected to the massing of other countries’ forces near Georgia’s borders — a reference to Russian forces and arms concentrated in Armenia. (Interfax, May 13).

U.S. Senate Responds to Covert Arms Transfers to Armenia.